2001 Topps Overview

27 01 2015

790 cards in the set – 405 in series 1 and 385 in series 2.  This is a huge increase of the sets that were less than 500 the past 5 or 6 years.  Topps was bringing back a lot of older traditions, notably manager cards and team checklists.  Card #7 was still retired at this point in honor of Mickey Mantle (this was the 5th year Topps retired Mantle’s number).

2001 Topps Griffey packs

  • Subsets: Season Highlights (#387-391), Postseason Highlights (#400-406), Golden Moments (#377-386, 782-791), League Leaders (#392-399), Managers (#322-351), Draft Picks (#352-361, 737-751), Prospects (#362-376, 727-736), and Team Checklists (#752-781).  As mentioned above, Manager cards were back for the first time since 1993.  Topps went away with the idea of one tribute card – instead they went with a subset called Golden Moments that was a tribute card to great moments in baseball history.
  • Set Design: The card fronts feature a green border with a gold foil inset border.  The player name is at the bottom of the card, with the team logo to the left.  A gold foil logo for Topps’ 50th anniversary is in one of the top corners.  This was the fifth straight year Topps didn’t have a white border.  The backs are horizontally oriented, with a player photo on the left and biographical information right below that.  The player’s name is at the top, with the card number in the right corner.  Seasonal and career statistics are below that, with a write-up if there’s room at the bottom.
  • Packs: Topps decreased to 10 cards per retail and hobby packs (36 per box).  Topps no longer listed MSRP on the packs or the boxes themselves, but it was the same $1.29 from the previous few years.  Packs from both series feature the Topps “50 years” logo on the front.  The jumbo packs were HTA (hobby) exclusive and contained 12 packs per box, 45 cards per pack.  Retail jumbo packs at 15 cards per pack, 24 packs per box.  I’ve also seen 2 types of blaster boxes, both with 7 cards per pack.  The first has 15 packs (14 + 1 “bonus”) for $13.99, while the second has 32 packs (29 + 3 “bonus”) for $28.99.
  • Rookies: After a number of unimpressive rookie crops, this one has a big one in Ichiro (series 2).  Also included are Rafael Soriano, Jake Peavy, Edwin Encarnacion, Travis Hafner, and Hee Seop Choi.  Albert Pujols didn’t make it in until the Traded set.
  • Hall of Fame: 23 Hall of Famers in this set, a huge increase of 9 from the year before.  This was due to the Golden Moments subset.  There was actually one less active player, as Wade Boggs had his last card in 2000.  Hank Aaron (after a tribute card in 2000), was still in the set.  Joining him in the Golden Moments set were 7 other retired players – Bill Mazeroski, Reggie Jackson, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Nolan Ryan, Lou Brock and Carlton Fisk.  Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre were back in the Topps set due to the manager subset being brought back.
  • Variations: There are none that I know of.  For once!

2001 Topps box series 12001 Topps box series 2In the previous 4 years, Topps had featured 1 active spokesman and 1 retired player on all their packaging.  This year the products featured 3 current players.  Series 1 boxes had a blue and yellow background, with Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza and Nomar Garciaparra.

Series 2 has a green and yellow background, with Barry Bonds and the two 1999 MVPs – Pudge Rodriguez and Chipper Jones.  Series 1 has a green background; McGwire is shown watching a ball he pulled down the left field line while Aaron is shown in the same batting stance from the front of his tribute card.

The “Topps” logo is large at the top, and the write-up tells you the box has Major League Baseball Cards Series 1/2.  Advertisements on the box promote inserts and the fact that original Topps cards are inserted.

Promo Cards

Unlike previous years, Topps didn’t issue pre-production cards.  They did create 8 super-jumbo cards that promoted the set and were handed out to dealers.  My last post looked at those, but I don’t consider these cards – you have to be able to fit in a binder to be cards!

Update Sets

Topps went away from a boxed set and issued a Traded set in packs.  It was called Traded & Rookies, and this was only the second Traded set to be issued in pack form.  Albert Pujols was the big name in the Traded set.  Also, the new thing this year was that Topps Chrome Traded was included in the same product.

Parallel Sets

There are 4 parallel sets in 2001.  Only one was inserted into packs – that was 2001 Topps Gold, which Topps officially called 2001 Topps 50th Anniversary.  These cards were numbered out of 2001, and Topps would continue that tradition going forward.

There were also 3 types of full parallels available via “factory sets”.  First was Limited Edition factory sets, which were made in the idea of the old Tiffany sets, with only 3,850 sets produced.  These have the words “limited edition” on the bottom and were printed on thicker stock than the base cards.

Home Team Advantage sets were back for the 2nd year – they are stamped with a “Home Team Advantage” logo.  Finally, there were about 150 sets given out to Topps employees with a different “Topps 50” logo in the upper corner.

  • 50th Anniversary Gold – 790 cards (1:17 s1, 1:14 s2)
  • Home Team Advantage – 790 cards (in HTA factory sets)
  • Limited – 790 cards (in Limited Edition factory sets)
  • Employee Edition  – 790 cards (in Employee sets)

Insert sets

After Mantle, Mays, Clemente, Ryan and Aaron as tribute players, Topps celebrated its 50-set anniversary with reprints of players from across the decade.  In general, the inserts were less “shiny” than the last few years, and had a lot more relation to the company’s focus on Topps’ history.

  • Combos – 20 cards (1:12)
  • Through the Years – 50 cards (1:8 series 1)
  • Golden Anniversary – 50 cards (1:10 series 1)
  • Tradition Continues – 30 cards (1:17 series 1)
  • Look Ahead – 10 cards (1:17 series 1)
  • Noteworthy – 50 cards (1:8 series 2)
  • Before there was Topps – 10 cards (1:25 series 2)
  • What Could Have Been – 10 cards (1:25 series 2)

There were no insert parallels this year.  Hoo-ray!  There were also no box-toppers (I kind of like those)!

Autographs & Memorabilia

Topps had been inserting autographs for a few years at this point.  The Golden Anniversary autographs were the current year version, containing an impressive checklist of current and retired players.  The autographs were inserted in tiers just like the year before.  There was also a pretty cool card inserted into series 1 – a dual autograph of the “Shot Heard Round the World” – Ralph Branca & Bobby Thomson.

2001 was the 2nd year of inserting relics into the flagship product.  King of Kings Relics included three different players in each series, with a rarer triple card with multiple relics in each series.  This was the first multi-relic card in Topps flagship.  Topps Originals inserted uniform pieces into reprints of 10 different players’ first Topps card.  Hit Parade relics were retail-only cards with a piece of bat inset.  All 6 players had 3,000 hits or 500 HR (or in the case of Eddie Murray, both).

Base Hit were autographed relic cards inserted into series 2 packs.  They contain 28 of the 30 MLB managers and a piece of a base used on opening day.

  • Golden Anniversary Autographs – 99 cards (1:346 s1 / 1:216 s2)
  • Shot Heard Round the World Autograph – 1 card (1:7,299 s1)
  • King of Kings Relic – 6 cards (1:2,056 s1 / 1:2,391 s2)
  • King of Kings Triple Relic – 2 cards (1:8,903 s1 / 1:7,205 s2)
  • Topps Originals – 10 cards (1:1,172 s1)
  • Hit Parade Relics – 10 cards (1:2,607 s2 retail)
  • Two of a Kind Relic – 1 card (1:30,167 s2)
  • Base Hit Autographed Relics – 28 cards (1:1,462 s2)

The factory sets provided a few versions of “preview cards” for 2001 Topps Archives – called Rookie Reprints.

  • Future Archives Rookie Reprints – 20 cards (5 per hobby factory sets)
  • Future Archives Gold Bordered Rookie Reprints – 20 cards (5 per HTA factory sets)
  • Future Archives Reserve Rookie Reprints – 20 cards (5 per Limited factory sets)

Factory Set

There were again quite a few different Topps factory set options in 2001.

First, the hobby factory sets were packaged with a blue grid background.  The 6 players who were featured on the series 1 and 2 boxes are shown on this set’s packaging.

2001 Topps factory set

The retail factory set was packaged in a gold background with no players and the Topps 50th logo.  This set had 5 Topps Archives Rookie Reprints, and, like the hobby version had just the base set.  As you can see, the retail price was $54.99.

2001 Topps factory set retail

There was a Home Team Advantage factory set, that had 5 Gold-bordered versions of the Topps Archives Rookie Reprints.  It looks the same as the retail version, with an HTA logo stamp.

2001 Topps factory set HTA

The Limited Edition factory set was presented in a nice wood box with a logo for the 50th anniversary.  It’s reminiscent of the Tiffany sets.  As I mentioned, the LE cards were on thicker card stock.

2001 Topps Limited Factory set

And there was the employee set, which is super rare – a factory set would cost you somewhere between $500 and $1,000 these days.

2001 Topps employee factory set

Promotions

In conjunction with the 50th Anniversary promotion, Topps inserted cards in what it called its “History” program.  Every previously released Topps cards was inserted into packs, which list them at a rate of 1:911.  I actually pulled a 1991 Topps card in my series 1 box.  Tough luck to beat such odds and get an overproduced early 90’s card!  Mickey Mantle’s complete card run was included in packs, at odds of 1:27,370.

Additionally, Topps inserted a number of promotional flyers into packs for Topps apparel & accessories

Other releases associated with the Topps flagship set

#1 – Topps again issued the “Topps Chrome” product – its 6th year.  For the first time, it wasn’t a full reproduction of the base set.  Topps only included 660 of the 790 cards.

#2 – Topps issued its 4th “Opening Day” set in 2001.  Again, the 165 card set was retail only, and features the same photos from the base set.  The border is blue instead of green, and there is an Opening Day logo instead of the Topps logo.

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